SAN FRANCISCO’s BEST ●Attractions●Performing Arts
American Conservatory Theatre (A.C.T.) 405 Geary St., in Geary Theater, 1 blk. from Union Square. Nationally recognized for its groundbreaking productions of classical and contemporary works, this company’s conservatory was the first U.S. training program not affiliated with a college or university. Danny Glover, Annette Bening, Denzel Washington, Benjamin Bratt, and Winona Ryder are among the distinguished former students.
image copyright Ron Scherl, courtesy of Steve Silver Productions
Beach Blanket Babylon 678 Beach Blanket Babylon Blvd. (formerly Green St.)/Powell St., in Club Fugazi, North Beach. CLOSED Going strong since 1974, this fast-moving and humorous musical revue is known for its colorful, creative costumes and elaborate oversize headdresses. It is the longest running musical revue in the world. The show changes periodically, adding new surprises. Family-friendly Sunday matinees are the only performances open to minors under age 21, and is best suited for age 12 and older. No alcohol is served then, there is no profanity or violence, and sexual puns are toned down. Performances sell out regularly, so reserve tickets early and arrive when the doors open.
Best of Broadway
●Curran Theatre 445 Geary St./Mason St. This 1922 Beaux Arts building features wrought-iron grillwork and a mansard roof.
●Golden Gate Theatre 1 Taylor St. (at 6th and Market). Built in 1922, this large venue has a brick facade.
●San Francisco Orpheum Theatre 1192. Market St./8th St. This theater was built in 1926 in an ornate Moorish style.
EXIT Theatre 156 Eddy St./Taylor St., near Union Square. This venue for independent theatre has five stages. Many shows are produced by independent theater companies that take their own reservations and run their own box offices. Everything from burlesque to magic is scheduled.
Magic Theatre Bldg. D, in Fort Mason Center, Marina District. Founded in 1967 at the legendary, long-gone Steppenwolf bar in Berkeley, this is the only major Bay Area theatre company dedicated solely to producing new plays. It has presented more than 250 premieres by some of the greatest writers of our time, including the 2001 world premiere of Sam Shepard’s The Late Henry Moss--starring Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Woody Harrelson, and Cheech Marin--and the 2004 world premiere of David Mamet’s Dr. Faustus. There are two theater spaces.
image courtesy of venue
Marines’ Memorial Theatre 609 Sutter St./Mason St., 2nd floor, in Marines’ Memorial Club & Hotel. Opened in 1926, this theater once hosted national radio broadcasts featuring greats Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra. From 1955 to 1965 it housed the legendary Actors' Workshop, and the American Conservatory Theatre began here in 1967. New productions are scheduled regularly.
San Francisco Mime Troupe At neighborhood parks throughout Bay Area. Free. Since 1964, this Tony Award-winning troupe has presented sometimes caustic, always entertaining commentary on current events, political leaders, and the state of our world. The troupe’s original productions combine music, satire, and comedy. In spite of the description, children and families attend in large numbers and generally enjoy the spectacle.
San Francisco Playhouse 405 Post St., 2nd fl., in Kensington Park Hotel. This intimate 199-seat venue presents live performances in a beautifully restored space on the Spanish-Gothic-style hotel’s second floor. It is a gem, with carved coffered ceilings and antique tiles.
Shelton Theater 533 Sutter St./Powell St., near Union Square. Offbeat small productions are presented in four tiny theaters.
image courtesy of venue
Young Performers Theatre Fort Mason, Bldg. C, Laguna St./Marina Blvd., Marina District. This group is based on the model of an adult professional repertory company, except they turn it around and all shows are performed entirely by children ages 9 through 18. This company uses imaginative stage settings and costumes, and the fast-moving productions are usually short as well, making them a good introduction to theatre for children ages 3 through 10. Past productions have included Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Wind in the Willows, and The Secret Garden.